Up to a dozen Donegal secondary schools could be affected if the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) strike goes ahead as planned this month.
Five Donegal secondary schools have staff represented by ASTI and seven are dual-union schools, with ASTI and Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) members on staff.
Youthreach centres and the 15 Donegal Education and Training Board schools will not be affected by the strike. Most teachers at ETB-managed schools and centres are TUI members.
The TUI executive is to meet on Friday to discuss how they will advise their members in dual-union schools to respond in the event of a strike.
Dual-union schools include Carndonagh Community School, Coláiste Cholmcille in Ballyshannon, Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola in Falcarragh, Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, Rosses Community School in Dungloe, St. Columba’s Comprehensive School in Glenties and the Royal and Prior in Raphoe.
ASTI represents teachers at Loreto Community School in Milford, Loreto Letterkenny, Scoil Mhuire Secondary School in Buncrana, St. Columba’s College in Stranorlar and St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny.
ASTI also represents teachers in Sligo town at Mercy College Sligo, Ursuline College and Summerhill College.
ASTI has announced plans for seven days of strike action between Oct. 27th and Dec. 7th. ASTI also voted to withdraw supervision and substitution duties from Nov. 7th. The strike action comes largely over demands for pay equality for newly qualified teachers.
Chris Darby, principal of St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny, said, “As a principal I’d just like to see it sorted.” He said a strike would be very disruptive for exam students and lead to uncertainty for parents and students.
“We’d prefer if it wasn’t happening and prefer if everyone got around the table and sorted it sooner rather than later,” he said.
Mr. Darby said he agreed that younger teachers should receive equal pay, saying, “I think something has to happen there.”
He said, “There’s an opportunity now in the next two weeks to get around the table,” saying he hoped, “they just get down to brass tacks and get some sort of deal sorted”.
The ASTI executive met with Department of Education officials yesterday. The union has said it remains available for talks without pre-conditions.
Neil Curran, ASTI representative for Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim, said the government has set a pre-condition of ASTI accepting the Lansdowne Road agreement, which ASTI members rejected in June.
“The mood is very militant,” Mr. Curran said of union members. Eighty per cent of ASTI members voted in favour of strike action.
ASTI members “would like to see this sorted once and for all,” he said.